Friday, June 27, 2008


I'm having a bit of pain on the left side, waist down. Have been to the docs twice, had an MRI and will be seeing a neurosurgeon on Tuesday. Can't sit for long, can't lay down for long, can't walk for long---so you see that's why I haven't blogged.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Wonderful Site

I got this from Nikki Leigh's blog. She's one author who is willing to share whatever information she gets and is a helleva friend to writing and promotion.

I just stumbled on a interesting and helpful resource. I have not had time to study each page, but I had to share this with you. When I start to write a new book, I have many ideas racing through my mind and lots of research details that need to be coordinated. So, I plan much of my book before I start writing. There are plenty of people who bash this approach, but it works very well for me and helps me write at a much quicker pace. Even with plans, I am totally open to the idea of making changes as I write the book. That is all part of the process, but having a definite plan is very helpful when working on a series which will tie parts of the books together. It is also helpful because I write historic novels and I incorporate real events into the stories and being organized helps me ensure that things happen when and where they should :)

This document is called the Novel Notebook and you can download a PDF of Text file. I downloaded the PDF - but will probably download the text file too in case I find things I would like to change or tweak :) Feel free to take a look.

Nikki Leigh

Thursday, June 19, 2008

An Undying Interest of Mine

I love horses. I hate what is often being done with them after they've served mankind.

Unwanted Horses: How Serious a Problem?

By Tom LaMarra

Posted: Wednesday June 18, 8:49 PM at

It tends to get lost in the shuffle because it’s not as sexy as anabolic steroids, race-fixing, or catastrophic breakdowns from a media perspective. But talk to people who work in the horse industry every day, and they’ll tell you the issue of unwanted horses is serious and so broad it impacts the entire United States, not just the horseracing industry.

Perhaps it’s time for a wake-up call.

“We need to focus our efforts on the front end of the problem rather than the rear end of the problem,” said Dr. Tom Lenz, a past president of the American Association of Equine Practitioners who is active with the Unwanted Horse Coalition formed after an AAEP-sponsored summit in 2005. “Honestly, the average horse owner hasn’t thought about this issue, but they need to give serious thought to changing the way they operate.”

Lenz offered his thoughts June 18 during the day-long “Unwanted Horse Forum” sponsored by the American Horse Council and the United States Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C. The forum was fairly subdued even though the lightning-rod issues of horse slaughter, euthanasia, and consumption of horsemeat colored much of the proceedings.

The USDA titled the forum “The Unwanted Horse Issue: What Now?” It was timely by accident; the United States Supreme Court two days earlier denied an appeal from an Illinois slaughter plan that challenged an Illinois law prohibiting the killing of horses for human consumption.

The meat at the Illinois plant and two in Texas that closed in 2007 was mostly shipped overseas for consumption.

According to USDA data through 2006, about 70,000 horses per year were slaughtered in the U.S., 25,000 a year were shipped to Canada, and 7,500 a year were sent to Mexico (that number jumped to 40,000 last year). There are about 20,000 un-adopted feral horses and another 6,000-8,000 waiting to be adopted. It all adds up to about 100,000 unwanted horses in the U.S. each year.

“I have no doubt there is an unwanted horse problem in this country,” Lenz said. “We cannot completely eliminate it, but we can certainly minimize the problem.”

Can't escape slaughter issue
The Unwanted Horse Coalition, which falls under the AHC umbrella and has about 25 member organizations from various breeds and disciplines, has focused on education given the fact it can’t issue mandates. The coalition published an “Own Responsibly” guide, while the AHC issued in booklet form care and handling guidelines for horse owners.

The Humane Society of the United States, which has been quite active on the slaughter issue, has an equine division and prints horse-care guides. But the HSUS position often is at odds with horse industry groups given its campaign to end slaughter.

“We are definitely anti-slaughter,” said Holly Hazard, chief innovations officer for the HSUS. “Our position is slaughter is inhumane. I think the issue really is whether slaughter is adding to our ability to create a more humane world for horses. I don’t see that’s true.”

And that’s the major split: Does the shutdown of U.S. slaughter plants help address the unwanted horse issue or make it worse?

“Is there a chance things could become worse than the scenario right now?” said Camie Heleski, coordinator of the Michigan State University Horse Management Program. “The public doesn’t always have all the facts when it comes to making decisions, and that has complicated the issue even more.”

Former Congressman Charles Stenholm of Texas took it even further. Stenholm, current a senior policy adviser at Olsson Frank and Weeda, a Washington, D.C., law firm that specializes in regulatory affairs, served as a member of the House Committee on Agriculture for 26 years and spent a lot of time on the slaughter issue.

“Everyone is entitled to their opinion,” Stenholm said, “but everyone is not entitled to their facts.”

Stenholm, who has been a lobbyist for the three U.S. slaughter plants, said the issue of the unwanted horse as it relates to horse slaughter is in need of hard facts rather than emotion, which he said has led to anti-slaughter legislation in Congress. Stenholm said those in the animal industry “all agree today that all animals should be treated humanely from birth to death,” but there are various opinions on what qualifies as humane.

The former lawmaker said the HSUS “did a beautiful job politically” in lobbying for anti-slaughter measures. But those who disagree, he said, see a problem that could only worsen.

How about private property rights?
“At some point, you are going to have horses that have no place to go,” Stenholm said. “When you begin to address the real world, I do see a little problem. This has become a 50-state issue...Horses are livestock, folks. Be careful of arguing that horses are pets, because you might get what you wish for. Pets are not tax deductible.”

Stenholm said he is disappointed the Supreme Court, in its Illinois slaughter ruling, didn’t address private property rights in terms of horse ownership. “We’re getting on very thin constitutional ice that has serious ramifications,” he said.

States are now studying the unwanted horse and slaughter issues, and a committee was to be formed perhaps June 18 to look at the issue from a national standpoint. There are hints that the U.S. hasn’t seen the end of slaughter plants despite the developments of the past two years.

“A lot of people are beginning to take a look at this with a realistic eye,” Stenholm said. “(Slaughter) has been an acceptable practice in the U.S. since we became a country. Only recently has this become un-American. If we lose this one, it’s over.”

U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield of Kentucky was scheduled to speak along with Stenholm, but moderator Richard Reynnells of the USDA announced Whitfield had a conflict that prevented him from attending his scheduled 45-minute session. Whitfield’s wife, Connie, is director of development for the HSUS.

Working on solutions

Tom Persechino, senior director of marketing for the American Quarter Horse Association, outlined potential solutions and options, such as rescue and retirement facilities, asking friends with acreage to take horses, contacting colleges and universities that have equine programs, and using horses for the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association.

Persechino said it’s not practical to force breeders to limit the number of horses they breed, but it is feasible to educate them. He said the Unwanted Horse Coalition “believes teaching people to own responsibly will help lower the number of unwanted horses.”

“The proposition that there are large numbers of unwanted horses in this country in need of slaughter can be answered with a resounding no,” said Hazard of the HSUS. “There are many horses in need of the commitment of the people with a stake in the horse industry to take responsibility for reducing the numbers that are bred, educating novice horse owners about proper care and training, creating new equestrian opportunities that allow more people to become a part of the equine community, and calling for an end to the unnecessary brutality of slaughter.”

Karin Bump, a professor at Cazenovia College in upstate New York, recommended a signal organization be in charge of collecting and maintaining data so there is no confusion. That, she said, would go a long way toward unifying the disparate groups.

It’s generally believed all the groups in play on the unwanted horse issue agree 90% of the time. It’s the other 10% that puts the unwanted horse at the mercy of politics.

“I think five to 10 years from now we’ll have a pretty good grip on things, but it’s going to take some time,” Lenz said.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Being a horse lover

Being a horse lover and using horses in all of my novels, I was thrilled to read the following from

Court Rejects Horse Slaughter Ban Appeal

Updated: Tuesday June 17, 8:57 AM
Posted: Monday June 16, 12:47 PM
The Supreme Court has declined an appeal from the owners of a horse slaughtering plant who challenged an Illinois law prohibiting the killing of horses for human consumption.

Cavel International closed its plant in DeKalb, Ill. last year after a federal appeals court upheld the ban. The company urged the justices to step in to allow the facility to reopen. The court did not comment on its order June 16.

The plant was the last horse slaughterhouse in the United States. About 40,000 to 60,000 horses were processed there annually, and most of the meat was shipped to be eaten by diners overseas.

Two other U.S. plants, both in Texas, also closed in 2007.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Fathers' Day

I wasn't able to get much done today, but I did get the Synopsis Contest article done for the Saratoga Romance Writers. I'm chairing the in-chapter contest and had to get something out to one and all. Now that it's done, I'll send it off to the president and the newletter editor. My job is done until the contest itself.

I also got a few things in the earlier chapters of VENGEANCE IS MINE. Once in a while, something occurs to me and I have to write in the notebook I keep, then get it into the novel where it belongs and cross out the material in the notebook. It's the only way I can keep track of what's going on.

Today we had company. Tomorrow, I have a luncheon I must attend, and I must also try to get in touch with Carla Neggers, who will hopefully do a workshop for the SRWA chapter, in November. Once those things are done, I need to get back to Writer's Village University's Word Slinger study group. I've been lax and want to give the feedback the folks there deserve. I might even post something myself.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

In the office

I'm in my outside office and hoping that it doesn't get too hot. I want to work on the feedback I got the last time I presented something to the Cambridge Fiction Writers. I never got a chance to work on it last week and it's killing me to have wasted all that time. I intend to make up for it during this coming week.

I want to have over 100 pages revised and awaiting a final edit. I'm at 61 pages as of today, so the over 100 isn't too much of a burden. I will push myself to do way more.

Yesterday's meeting was good. We did more talking about the craft than we usually do and had only one presenter, whose writing is extra-special good to begin with. She had 16 pages, which kept us busy for a good part of the afternoon and gave us much to talk about regarding writing. I just love that group.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Nothing done = NOTHING

I have done nothing worth doing this entire week. Today is Friday the 13th and I don't dare do anything except go to my writer's meeting. I won't even have anything for them to critique, but maybe others will.

Later today, I will sit down at this computer and work on the revisions from last week's meeting. Then I'll be able to go ahead. I am up to page 61--but that isn't far enough if I intend to finish this novel before the end of summer.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Belmont

When Big Brown didn't win the Belmont and become the first Triple Crown winner in 30 years, I was devastated. For the first time in a long time, I was quiet, depressed and out of sorts. I'm still not over it.

I'm reading all the BLOOD HORSE magazine news now by email (magazine itself coming later) and there seems to be controversy over Big Brown being "pulled up." I sort of wondered about that myself, but thought that the horse might have gone lame. So far, nothing seems wrong with his health. I'm still watching the news to hear more about the problem(s).

Right now, my problem seems to be the heat. I don't do well in such hot weather. In fact, once it gets over 80 degrees, I rush to a cool air-conditioned room. I probably won't be writing much today.......maybe I'll work on the laptop, in the house instead of the office. The house AC is better.

I spoke with my publisher and she wants the manuscript as quickly as she can get it. I'm only up to page 61--but it's coming.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

THE BELMONT--third leg of the Triple Crown

The only horse that might have had a chance against Big Brown in the Belmont has been scratched. I will be watching the Belmont festivities and the races all day, so the same information is on both blogs................


Casino Drive is out of the Belmont.

By Ron Mitchell
Saturday June 7, 9:51 AM

About an hour after giving the all-clear for Casino Drive to run in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I), trainer Kazuo Fujisawa said the colt was favoring his left rear hoof and was scratched from the classic.

Earlier, Fujisawa was all smiles after watching Casino Drive canter three furlongs and gave a thumbs up for colt to run in the Belmont.

But when the colt was being bathed following the exercise regimen, he was favoring his foot and the trainer decided to scratch.

"He is sound," Fujisawa declared earlier, after watching Casino Drive leave the track following a three furlong canter. Winner of the Peter Pan (gr. II) at Belmont, Casino Drive is considered one of the leading contenders to upset Big Brown's Triple Crown quest.

The colt's status was thrown into doubt Friday when he did not go to the track because a stone bruise had been detected in the left hind hoof.

Accompanied by Nobutaka Tada, spokesperson of owner Hidetoshi Yamamota, Fujisawa followed Casino Drive to the track at about 5:30 a.m. The colt and a stablemate walked the circle in the paddock for about six laps before going onto the track for his exercise.

Tada said the colt appeared to be favoring the hoof and the trainer decided to scratch. He said a veterinarian, whom he declined to name, inspected Casino Drive and confirmed the right decision had been made.

Tada said Casino Drive would ship to Japan Tuesday with his stablemates and would return to the U.S. later in the year.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Novel

VENGEANCE IS MINE is going great. I'm up to page 61 now and rolling along at a good pace. I'm revising some of the stuff I'd written before and should be over 100 pages by the weekend...allowing for time out to watch and scream for the horses on Saturday.

The Belmont is set to go off then and I'm in a tizzy. I hope to blue blazes that Big Brown wins the triple crown. I don't like his #1 post position, because I feel the other horses will crowd him in. I'd love to know the training going into that. I guess his hoof quarter crack is much better and that nothing happens to him during the race. I don't think I could stand another Eight Belles.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Irish Surnames

I have two Irish attorneys in my suspense novel, VENGEANCE IS MINE. The older one's name is Leo Sullivan, changed from another name that didn't suit. He's a wonderful guy, intelligent, law-abiding and grand.......... The other is Devlin O'Hara. I just adore most Irishmen..........

Irish Family Surnames - O’Sullivan family History and origins
Sullivan is an Irish surname and is actually the same as O’Sullivan. In Irish both names Ó Súilleabháin.
Variations on the name are many. Sullivant, Sillivant, Silliphant, and Sillifant.
The actual meaning of the same name is not clear. The root of the name is the word Suil – eye, but whether the full name means one-eyed or indeed hawk-eyed is still disputed.
The O’Sullivan clan are descendants, like so many of the Irish clans, of Milesius who were the first Celts to colonize Ireland. The Milesians were originally settled in North West Spain where they had a city Brigantia. The migrated to Ireland about 800 B.C and indeed after the fall of Gaelic Ireland to foreign conquest the O’Neil fled to Spain where he saw many ruins associated with Milesius over 2400 years earlier. The Milesians conquered the people that lived in Ireland at that time, the Firbolg and the Tuatha de Dannan. Irish mythology is full of the stories about this this period.

The O’Sullivans are descended from Eoghan (Owen) Mor, the father of the famous Oilioll Olum, they were, with the O’Callaghans, the MacCarthys and the O’Keeffe, one of the leading families of the Munster Eoghanacht. Suilleabhain himself was a direct descendant of Finghin who was a king of Munster in the year 620 A.D. Suilleabhain was born 8 generations later which would place him in the year 862.
The name O’Sullivan is the most common name in the province of Munster and the third most common name in Ireland. Today almost 80% of all Sullivans live in Munster, their original area of rule.
In 1169 the Normans launched their first invasion of Ireland, the beginning of just over 800 years of foreign invasion and occupation. The O’Sullivan clan was driven southwards from their original territory of Tipperary in 1193. They moved to west Cork and south Kerry. Soon after, they divided into two groups - O’Sullivan Mor (Mor indicating larger or greater) in south Kerry, with their principal castle at Dunkerron on the shore of Kenmare Bay and O’Sullivan Beare in west Cork. The Beare suffix came from the Beare peninsula that was named for the Spanish princess Bera, the wife of the first King of Munster. The war with the Normans continued and a notable victory was achieved by the clan, with their O’Donahue and McCarthy allies in 1261 at the battle of Caisglin near Kilgarvan and just north of Kenmare, Kerry.
The O’Sullivan Beare clan was further divided in 1592. When Donal O’Sullivan, the chieftain, was slain in 1563 his son of the same name was but a child two years of age. The Irish succession laws of Tanistry required that the title of chieftain be passed on to the most capable of the dead chief’s family. As a result the clan decided that Owen, one of the brothers of the dead chief, would take over control of the clan and become Lord of Beare and Bantry. Owen acknowledged the English crown and was made a knight by Queen Elizabeth. In 1587 young Donal, now twenty-six years old, decided to claim leadership of the clan. He petitioned the authorities in Dublin, using as the basis for his claim English lineal law, whereby the oldest son should inherit his father’s title regardless of his age at the time of his father’s death. The English Commission wished to see English law implemented across Ireland and sensing the opportunity to divide the O’Sullivans approved his claim.
Owen O’Sullivan had also lost influence due to his partaking in the Desmond rebellion. The O’Sullivans and other clans provided shelter to 12 year old Gerald FitzGerald when Henry’s troops sought to capture him, the last member of his family and the heir to the Earlship of Desmond. The war of the Munster allies continued through the reign of Elizabeth. In the late 1590s, it was the O’Sullivan Mor clan and their close allies the McSweenys that bore the brunt of the fighting with the English forces. Donal O’Sullivan, now chieftain of the O’Sullivan Beare clan, held back from the fighting until the O’Donnells and O’Neills, the great clans of Ulster and those who would have claimed the title of High King of Ireland except for the invasion, entered the campaign.

Munster was in 1600 was a land at war. The Munster clans were being evicted from their lands which were being handed over to colonists.

King Philip III of Spain agreed to send help to the Irish under the command of Don Juan D’Aquilla. Rather than landing in Ulster, as suggested by O’Neill, the Spanish forces landed at Kinsale in County Cork to avoid encountering the English warships in the Irish Sea. The war weary and decimated Munster clans had difficulty mustering an army to join the Ulster and Spanish forces. Donal O’Sullivan Beare was given command of the Munster forces which consisted mainly of soldiers of his clan and those of the O’Driscolls, McSweeneys, and O’Connor Kerry. Daniel O’Sullivan Mor could only contribute token support because of the losses he sustained in the previous years.

The Spanish soldiers were given the responsibility of forming the garrisons for the castles of the O’Driscolls and the O’Sullivans so as to free the Irish troops for the battles to come. The rest of the four thousand Spanish soldiers remained at Kinsale to await the arrival of the Ulster forces. Donal marched to Kinsale with an army of one thousand men. He sent a letter to King Philip swearing allegiance to him as his sovereign. The letter was intercepted by English agents and was later used as reason for denying him pardon.

On December 24, 1601 at the coming of dawn the battle began. It was over in a matter of hours. It was a resounding defeat for the Irish forces. This was due in large part to the reluctance of the Spanish troops to leave the protection of the walled city of Kinsale and join the battle until it was over. O’Neill retreated back to Tyrone with his battered troops. O’Donnell handed over command of his soldiers to his brother and embarked for Spain to plead for more help from King Philip. General Aquila sued for peace and Lord Mountjoy, commander of the English, was only too happy to accept his request. Aquila agreed to surrender the castles his troops were defending. This meant that the O’Sullivans and the O’Driscolls had to fight the Spanish to regain their castles. Donal O’Sullivan wrote to King Philip complaining about the behavior of Aquila. When Aquila returned to Spain he was held in contempt by King Philip and put under house arrest.

Many of the O’Sullivan clan’s non-combatants were sent to the island of Dursey to keep them out of harms way. An English force led by a John Bostock attacked the small garrison guarding the island. They butchered the entire population of the island, women, children, and the garrison. They cast their bodies, some while they were still alive, onto the rocks below the cliff overlooking the sea. It was a dreadful omen of Ireland’s future.

The Lord President of Munster, George Carew, now moved to destroy Dunboy castle, the O’Sullivan Beare principle fortress. After two days of cannon fire the castle was almost destroyed but still the gallant defenders fought on, though only 143 in number. It was now the last rebel stronghold to hold out against the English. Meanwhile Donal was waiting at Ardea for reinforcements and weapons, and gold to pay his troops. He had been promised money and supplies by the Spanish. After two more days of fighting the remaining defenders, having retreated to the cellar of the castle, attempted to surrender. It was accepted but they were treacherously hanged the next day.

Donal O’Sullivan now realized that the Spanish reinforcements were not coming. It was obvious that all was lost in Munster. Famine conditions now existed and though he had considerable Spanish gold, there was little food available. With one thousand followers consisting of soldiers and civilians they began a long journey to Leitrim to the castle of his ally the Ó Ruairc (O’Rourke). He believed that he could hold out longer amongst his northern allies, the O’Donnells and O’Neills. . Throughout the 300-mile (480 km) trek they were attacked by English forces and treasonous Irish that were loyal to Elizabeth. The country-side had been ravaged by war and famine; the people along the way were trying to stay alive themselves. They could ill afford to provide any aid or food. Of the 1000 odd who set out only 30 odd made it. It had been an unusually cruel winter and the conditions are described in detail by Philip O’Sullivan Beare, a cousin of Donal O’Sullivan.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Idea for Clan Gunn book

I just read this snippet of a fact about Scotland. It got me to wondering if there were folks interested in geology--around 1650. If so, it would be a wonderful and exciting interest for Baen Gunn, the second hero (redeemed) in the sequel to Clan Gunn: Gerek. What a wonderful hero an author could make of Baen Gunn..........part of the Henderson Clan.

From: News -Fact of the Day

On this day in 1726 James Hutton, the father of modern geology, was born in Edinburgh. Hutton was one of the first scientists to challenge the biblical conception of time and replace it with one based on the scientific calculation of the age of rocks. He came to this theory while studying rocks from Arthur's Seat, an exctinct volcano located at the heart of Edinburgh, and at Siccar Point in East Lothian.